Delicate by Sarah Sanders

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Gosh! What a beautiful romance! Sports romance with the most gorgeous MCs. Valentina González was a promising tennis playe...

Night Life by S.J. Hartsfield


This one has the setting of a romcom but is written with the seriousness and earnestness of a romance. It still works.

Ronnie Kent is the "hottest blonde" escort on the roster of Night Life, an escort agency owned by one Karla. Ronnie enjoys her work and is the most popular escort in the agency. When an unusual booking is accepted by Karla at a premium price, Ronnie is the girl of choice. The booking is unusual inasmuch it is not made by the end client and the contract that ensures a clean health undertaking is not signed by the client either. Though this is not okay, the money is phenomenal and Ronnie rather likes the idea of being a 'gift', so off she goes.

Ronnie's client is Diana Silver, child of wealthy parents whose mother has political ambitions. Diana's mom disses Diana's education in hospitality but nevertheless has Diana working as an event organiser (party planner) in the family business. The overbearing mother is also not the least bit subtle about trying to matchmake and finds a suitable match in Evelyn for Diana and throws them together under the guise of the two of them working for her campaign. 

After a tentative start to their evening together, Ronnie and Diana have a exceptional time together. So much so that Ronnie can't wait to be hired by Diana again. 

Soon Diana becomes Ronnie's 'regular' and Karla happily fleeces Ronnie into paying stupid prices for Ronnie. However, Ronnie, Diana, Karla and Diana's mom did not consider the possibility of feelings rising between Ronnie and Diana.

This is an erotic romance. Erotica drives the romance and almost every scene featuring Ronnie and Diana together is a sex scene (through most of the book). But there are enough feelings (especially in Ronnie) to also make this a romance.

Ronnie is quite lovely. Diana is weirdly helpless and wimpish with the whole mom dynamic. Plus her lack of spine and leading Evelyn (who is a stellar person) on is miles away from endearing. Also, her tendency to treat Ronnie as hired help is less than nice or loving or romantic. That the romance works despite Diana is a tribute to Ronnie's likeability factor and the awesomely hot sex scenes.

Entirely unexpected is the adorable epilogue. Now that certainly brought a smile on our face and ratcheted up the rating for the book. 

This is an enjoyable read, on the whole.


Off Balance by L. E. Royal


L. E. Royal is a must-read author for us. Well-realised characters, rocking chemistry, convincing relationships -- her books have it all.

Maya Scott is the newest employee with the Mars Fund. At twenty-two, Maya hasn't had an easy life. And there is one person, Robert Holt, determined to kick her down and keep her there. Holt also happens to be the grandfather of Maya's three year old daughter, Livvie. In a dick move, Holt managed to wrangle Liv's custody from the scared and confused teenager that Maya was when Liv was born. Ever since then, Maya is struggling to prove herself stable and capable and get her daughter back. 

Maya has an unfortunate and embarrassing first encounter with her boss, Elena Mars. Elena suffers from cerebral palsy but doesn't let that slow her down in any way. She is driven and tough, and works herself and her team hard. 

Liv proves to be an unexpected bridge between Maya and Elena and neither the fourteen years between them nor the vast gap between their financial statuses matters.

Maya and Elena are brilliantly written. Individually, they have all the complexes and complexities that make then entirely real and together their relationship has depths and dimensions that makes it just simply awesome.

Elena's difficulties and struggles are inescapable, incomparable and cannot be overstated. But Maya's difficulties and struggles, though of a different kind, are also as real and as valid. The beautiful part is how each one is there for the other in the way they are needed. How they both make an effort to learn about the place the other is in and what they can do to support -- Maya reading about cerebral palsy and Elena reading about toddler development goals are the obvious examples.

We absolutely love the part where Maya tells Elena that she doesn't entirely understand Elena's condition, but wants to and asks her to talk to her. In the flow of the story, this was incredibly beautiful. In fact, all the ways that Maya shows her love for Elena is heart-squeezingly gorgeous. The less obvious part of loving is that Elena let's Maya love her like the way she does. Uncontrollable physical difficulties have a huge mental and emotional toll. The defensiveness and need-to-prove one's self-sufficiency can be insurmountable hurdles. It requires Maya kind of expansive and unwavering love to overcome this hurdle. And it requires a leap of faith from Elena to allow it. We also loved the parts where Maya and Elena have disagreements and fights that play out in line the complexes they have as individuals. That is very insightful writing.

Liv and Maya's non-binary best friend and their girlfriend are delightful supporting characters. 

This one is definitely romantic erotica -- lots of fabulous sexy times driven by feelings and the relationship between the leading ladies. 

Royal gives us a book that has all the feels, amazing chemistry, multi-dimensional characters, hot sex, an adorable child and, Maya.

This book is most recommended.


Spindrift by Anna Burke


When a character grabs your heart on introduction and you are totally invested in a book by the end of the first chapter, you know this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Emilia Russo is struggling on many levels when she comes to Seal Cove to deal with her late father's estate. Morgan Donovan is an ambulatory vet with a thriving practice in Seal Cove. Decades ago, when Emilia still visited her father during summers, she'd had a crush on Morgan. Decades later the attraction is still there and this time Morgan not only sees Emilia but returns the feelings. But with both of them, and Emilia in particular, struggling emotionally, it's not easy going.

No synopsis can capture the true depth of characterisations or the many textures of the various relationships in this book. Relationships not only between the two leading ladies but with an extensive supporting cast of friends, families, coworkers and pets. 

In her bio, Burke writes "...drinking too much tea, which she prefers hot and strong—just like her protagonists.” Hot and strong is the perfect description for not only Emilia and Morgan, but for most of the women we meet in this story. Burke writes her people with depths and dimensions that make them tangibly real.

Emilia is someone who captured our heart and imagination completely. Morgan was a good foil to Emilia's strength and sexiness most of the time. Most of the time, not always, though. Especially towards the end where our liking for Morgan was severely tested. She does redeem herself later, but just about. On the other hand Emilia is a brilliantly explored and layered personality who just grows more and more compelling in each scene. 

We usually dread the compulsory conflict towards the end and maybe, this one didn't really need it. It would've moved perfectly well without the conflict, but then, we'd have missed Emilia's sexy assertiveness in the resolution conversation. 

Hot, hot, hot sexy times in this one. Utterly and totally awesome. And plenty of them. Okay, maybe a little more than expected, but sooo good. The chemistry between the leading ladies is so good that the sex becomes more than just erotica even for the reader. That is quite an achievement.

We see at least two more books within the Seal Cove universe and this group of friends. We can't wait for them.

Highly, highly, highly recommended.

PS: We'd like to put in our request to Burke to write one for Morgan's ex, Kate. In her brief appearance, Kate was just so lovely. Also, in her relationship with Morgan, Kate got the bad deal and she deserves love, romance, attention and happiness. We'd love to read abut Kate getting her sweeping romance. 


Sugar & Spice by Sarah Sanders


This one is super short, super cute and super hot.

Princess Aurora has just been formally made the Crown Princess of her country. She’s grown up in the romantic reality of her parents’ marriage – the prince and the royal dog walker – and hopes to get her own fairy tale.

Elandra’s grandmother is the royal chef. A decade back Elandra had got infatuated by Aurora and gone away to see the world and has just returned back as an accomplished cook herself.

When the Crown Princess offers Elandra the position as her personal chef, things really get moving.

We loved Aurora and Elandra. Though thee storyline is thin, the chemistry is unbelievable and the sex, hot. There is insta-attraction and insta-love, but we totally buy into that concept, so it works for us perfectly. We are impressed that in the limited space, there was enough burn and enough relationship to make the sex longed-for and entirely satisfying.

For a pocket packet, this one is quite a pocket rocket, and we so recommend it.

Back to Ruby's (Ruby's Bar Book 2) by KC Luck


This book is like reading an episode of a dramatic lesbian TV series.

A group of seven friends hang out together regularly. The group comprises two couples, one desperately want-to-be couple and one happy-to-mingle single. This is the story of the couple that wants-to-be: Rey and Marty. Rey and Marty are roommates who need to move soon. They both nurse hidden feelings for the other. They are keen on moving together but can't find the right place, so the possibility of moving separately is getting real. One of the other couples, Liza and Tate, have having relationship problems. The third couple, Allie and Vivian seem to have got it all together with their personal and professional lives, but things are not quite what they seem. Exes turn up to throw spanner in the works.

The Rey-Marty relationship is agonising. There is only assumption and non-communication between them. So much so that the angst only feels irritating and you actually want to beg them to have one blessed conversation. Just. Plain. Irritating.

The best thing in the book is how staunch Allie and Nikki are. We're not particularly fond of the great butch-femme binary and typecasting which this book has. But that pairing seems to have its takers, so who can argue about that?

While not a great read, this is nevertheless an easy read.


The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite


This is a brilliantly written slow burn historical romance that uses facts to effectively give social and historical context to fiction.

Agatha Griffin has been widowed for three years. Her marriage was one of harmony and love. While her husband was alive, the couple ran a printing business which she is now managing alone and trying her best to get her teenaged son interested in. Her son is however more interested in rebellion and change which makes Agatha extremely nervous.

Agatha has a press in London and one in the town of Melliton, where her mother-in-law lives. On a visit to the Melliton press, Agatha finds a part of the warehouse colonised by bees. On her mother-in-law’s recommendation, Agatha sets off in search of Penelope Flood to deal with the bees.

Penelope is a merchant’s daughter with a whole lot of brothers who’ve moved out of the village. She lives in the family home by herself while her husband, a sailor, is away for years at end. Penelope has a steady income and also a gift with bees, so besides her own hives, she helps other beekeepers around town.

Flood helps Griffin with her problem and promises to look after the resettled hive and keep Griffin updated. Thus starts an unlikely connection between the two women.

The story is set in 1820s and the whole drama between King George and Queen Caroline forms important context. The environment of suppression of women and the social acceptance and expectation of a ‘woman’s place’ is written so well that you can practically feel it.

There are a lot of characters – practically an entire village – and each individual has their own personality and depth. Most characters are depicted as ordinary folk not wanting to upset the apple cart too much. But they aren’t complete doormats either and do thumb their nose at insufferable authority figures whenever they can while making sure that they do not face repercussions. More heroism would’ve been nice, but since history is such an important part of the story, guess Waite didn’t want to particularly change that.

The romance between Agatha and Flood is mostly pining for each other and keeping their feelings in check for propriety. But the connection and chemistry is unmissable. Whether spending time traversing the town taking care of hives, or their letters to each other, or just being a part of each other’s lives and thoughts – the relationship is beautifully built. Once they confess their feelings, however, the relationship moves at a sonic pace, including one graphically lush sex scene.

This is a great read which we strongly recommend.

The Love Factor by Quinn Ivins


Set in the late 90s, this is a teacher-student romance but written so convincingly that it is not the tiniest bit discomfiting.

Carmen Vaughn is a tenured professor in the political science department of Maryland University.  Her subject is statistics. Carmen comes from a Roman Catholic family and her department is notoriously regressive, so her personal life is strictly under wraps – particularly because she is gay. Carmen has no illusions about what coming out would do to her personal and professional life so she chooses to be quiet about her sexuality and completely professional (and brilliant) at work.

Molly Cook is an activist at heart but has decided to be pragmatic and at almost thirty, she has returned to studies with a goal of doing Phd and then getting into research and academics. But Molly’s natural instinct is to fight for changes and try as she might, this part of her won’t be repressed.

Molly is attracted to Carmen right from the beginning and her natural gift with numbers helps her excel in class. Carmen offers her the position of TA for a semester and Molly is delighted at the thought of spending more time with Carmen. Unwittingly, Molly also discovers Carmen’s best kept secret. Molly promises silence but cannot help hope flaring that the chemistry between them may find an avenue. However, Carmen shies away from that possibility.

While they are navigating their personal attraction and their professional relationship, one homophobic faculty publishes a report with some highly suspect anti-gay findings; new queer-identifying students refuse to disappear into the woodwork and both the women get drawn into unexpected situations.

Molly and Carmen are wonderful characters. It is strange to realise that even in 1997 (which doesn’t seem that long ago), being gay was so tough. Carmen’s character has in interesting arc while life and circumstances make the deeply-closeted lesbian and a closed professor undergo many changes becoming almost the complete opposite by the end of the book.

The relationship is mostly pining and burning, but it is so convincing. The chemistry between Molly and Carmen is awesome and the caring that they have for the other is really special. You cannot but help root for the two of them to get together already.

We love the title which smartly uses a statistical term in the romantic phrase. We thoroughly enjoyed the meticulousness with which the 90s have been written (floppy discs, long distance landline calls, Smashing Pumpkins…that’s just a tiny sample of the perfect details). We loved Carmen’s journey and the romance.

Obviously, we recommend this one.

Vegas Savages by Jane Brooke


Adjectives slam around when we try to think about what to say about this book. The one that swims on to the top is -- raw. This book is raw. It has raw emotions, raw sexuality and sexual descriptions and a raw depth. It is also edgy, grimy, gritty and somewhat mind bending. Through it all runs a delicious vein of dry humour and uncompromising observations (good and bad; positive and negative) about everything from politics to environment and conservation.

PI / Bounty Hunter Jane is a Brit repartiate in North Vegas, a place of debauchary, deviance, dreams and deaths. Bold, brilliant, beautiful and badass, Jane has the sensibilities of a vigilante but manages to tread a very, very fine line between meting out justice in crude, painful ways and staying on the right side of law. An unapologetically sexual creature, she has no qualms about using all tools -- guns, martial arts or sex -- at her disposal to put away a bad 'un -- man or woman. 

Jane is described as a Mensa genius, stunning (an ex model), quirky, tall, queer twist savage, steel toed boot string blond, wealthy, linguist, violent, troubled, weapons and martial arts expert, a heart of gold, lives in her own retro/film noir world. She is a NOW generation kinda plugged in girl, seeing the world in a acid etched reality. 

This book takes us into Jane's world as she first handles a couple of jobs for the police, living and partaking enthusiastically of the den of sin that her world is. She is all guns and glam with a massive sexual drive. One of the beautiful girls who come to Vegas with stars in their eyes only to end up in a gutter of deadbeat degradation, reaches out to Jane about her missing thirteen year old daughter.

As Jane tracks the missing child, we are taken through all sorts of darkness and mayhem, depravity and justice.

This is a genre defying work. It cannot be slotted into a neat box. It is erotica. It is crime. It is action. It is stream of consciousness. It is also social and political commentary. It is all these things and yet cannot be contained in just one of these genres.

Written in first person, the style is entirely unique. Clipped phrases form short, staccato sentences that move incidents along at a rapid fire pace. Jane's thoughts move along a stream of consciousness going from thinking of a evil man to Taylow Swift and back seamlessly. The style is kind of mesmerising and addictive.

Brooke doesn't shy away from writing everything in explicit and excruciating detail -- whether it is sex (including a singularly detailed BDSM 'scene'); gut-wrenching and stomach-churning descriptions of what happened to a victim; heart wrenching aftermath of the aforementioned  knowledge on Jane via tortuous dreams; and sordidly graphic violence (which feels strangely satisfying given who is at the receiving end). 

This is not a book for the squeamish or faint hearted but if you do pick t up, it is quite an experience. Enthralling, even.

We certainly recommend this book. Tread the path not frequented and walk the wild side.


Vesting Period by Monica McCallan



This is the second in the series about the ladies behind LadyLuck, a dating app for lesbians. Though it is a part of a series, it is complete as a standalone romance in itself.

Carter Montgomery is LadyLuck's app designer. She and her friends Avery and Brennan are the three co-founders of the popular app. Pushing Carter to find some romantic (or at least sexual) interest, Avery sets her up on a date using LadyLuck. Carter's date is Jamie Prescott, a roving start-up streamlining and troubleshooting consultant employed by a major venture capital firm based in New York. By the nature of her job, Jamie is never in any city for long and all she is really looking for is hookups in whichever city she happens to be. While Carter and Jamie are intellectual equals, there is no meeting ground in their thoughts, ideas, outlooks or personal wants. Their first date ends with Carter walking away in a huff. 

Subsequent meetings don't go much better despite Carter's best efforts. A natural with people, Carter cannot figure out why she can't really have a cordial conversation with Jamie. Being attracted to the infuriating woman doesn't help. When Jamie makes Carter realise that she's looking for love and a relationship, things only get more difficult for Carter trying to balance her long term wants with the attraction for a woman who isn't going to be in town much longer.

The thing that we enjoyed the most in this book were the dialogues. Whether intellectual dialogues about abstractions and concepts; fun dialogues with friends or serious ones with family -- the dialogues are awesome. Then there is great supporting cast of friends (Carter's and Jamie's) and Carter's sister. 

Carter and Jamie are very well developed personalities and their baggage (particularly Jamie's) is thoroughly explained. But all the character development and motive explanation in the world cannot make us forgive ghosting -- so Jamie loses points. Plus, between the two, only Carter makes compromises with who she is and what she wants, to be with Jamie, which made us feel that Carter is way more invested in the relationship than Jamie. This feeling remains even at the end. Skewed relationships in a romance don't sit too well with us -- at least in our books, the escapist world should have more balance and emotional equality. 

Notwithstanding our need for Carter to get more and to get better than Jamie, this is a well paced, highly readable romance with likeable characters, a well developed context and (once again) great dialogues.


The Woman in 3B by Eliza Lentzski


This one has an almost romcom meeting premise but is definitely a contemporary romance.

After spending two ill-advised years in college and running up a student debt of about 40k, Alice Kaminski is now a flight attendant scrambling to clear off the debt. To that end, Alice works non-stop even choosing to be on-call when she can have an off. Also to the same end, Alice participates in a secret monthly flight attendant bingo competition which lists twenty-five tasks of varying difficulty levels to be completed in a month. The person completing all tasks takes home the kitty and if no one completed it, the prize money rolls over to the next month. The current kitty stands at 10k which would go a long way in paying off Alice’s debt. One of the tasks in the current month’s competition is to drop a beverage on the person sitting in seat 3B. Alice is all set to complete the task but the gorgeous woman in 3B, Anissa Khouri, shows unexpected politeness towards Alice and mid-task, Alice cannot go through with it and spills the water on herself.

Alice’s klutziness is the start of an unexpected series of events by with Anissa and Alice spend more time together. And the more Alice sees of Anissa, the more she is attracted to her. An attraction that is fully returned by Anissa who is less shy than Alice about acting on it.

Alice and Anissa are both interesting multi-dimensional characters. Alice is singly focussed on herself with little time for her older sister, niece and nephew. Alice finds her sister passive-aggressive and is not particularly there for or with her. But she is also kind, sweet and something about her is rather young and vulnerable.

Anissa is into HR and is married to her work. She is close to her family and generous with her time and interest in Alice’s family. Of the two, Anissa moves in first sexually, but when it comes to the emotional part of the relationship with Alice, she is chicken. In fact, the entire emotional burden of the relationship is carried by Alice singlehandedly. Between the two, Alice has a greater character trajectory especially with her family.

We’re never big fans of lopsided relationships and even less of one person ghosting the other. Nothing ends a relationship more that blocking another. Yet romances would have us believe that this is forgivable behaviour. Well.

The end is surprisingly hurried. There is just no insight or lead-in to Anissa’s behaviour in the end. But all’s well that ends well, so the happy ending (yes it is expected in a romance, but that doesn’t make it less gratifying) makes this a worth it read.

BTW, hot, hot sex scenes ;)  


Star Struck: A Lesbian Romance by Mia Archer

Tabitha Cartwright became a teen sensation starring in a popular superhero TV serial. Now a young adult, she's in the process of transitioning onto the big screen. There are rumours about her and an actor and a studio wants to cash in on the interest in the possible romance of the two former child stars by making a cheesy romance with the two in the leading roles. Amy is an extra on the set of the movie for the meet cute scene. She's had a crush on Tabitha forever but knows to keep her head down if she wants to have anything like a career in the movies. Except that Tabitha singles her out to hang out. Amy is surprised to discover that Tabitha's sexuality is one of the better kept secrets about her.

As Tabitha and Amy find more and more in common, the movie is quickly getting all but derailed.

We wish we'd got a better sense of what the two leading ladies looked like. We know Tabitha has a radiant smile, but little else. Also, both Tabitha and Amy behave like irresponsible teenagers most of the time which, given their backgrounds didn't quite jell.

Tabitha and Amy have great chemistry in the first couple of scenes but it doesn't pop the same way later. Even the relationship didn't really grow. In fact, though there was an immediate U-haul, the relationship didn't quite move past the initial awkward stages since they never got around being completely emotionally open and vulnerable with each other. Amy in particular was rather unmindful and uncaring about the situations she was putting Tabitha in. She also didn't have any real appreciation of Tabitha. We didn't get the sense that Amy actually saw Tabitha. And that was rather sad. The onus of making the relationship a relationship lay entirely with Tabitha and though she seemed to put in everything, it never seemed like her efforts were returned in any way.

With the way things are between them in the end, this is more HFN than HEA unless Amy does a whole lot of maturing emotionally rather quickly -- something that we don't see happening.

This book constantly teetered on the possibility of moving to magnificence. At every point we hoped that it would move into being more detailed, have greater depth and explore more dimensions in characterisations and the relationship -- but that never happened. As someone once said (think it was Somerset Maugham) people don't write as they want to, they write as they can. We just wish there was more to this one, though.

Overall, this is an okay read in the short reads niche.

The Goode Vet by JJ Arias


Ronny Hayes has just won a lottery of thirty million and moved into a decrepit mansion in an exclusive neighbourhood with grand plans of restoring it herself with the help of her brothers. Dr. Vanessa Hunter, a vet, is the star of a popular reality show and Ronny's closest neighbour. Vanessa is also rather a diva and doesn't take kindly to the shenanigans of her new neighbours, no matter how amiable they are.

So we have a gripe -- the books in the Goode Girls series are usually long enough to get into totally. They give you a feeling of satisfaction at the end. This one is just too short. And the length is even more galling because we felt that Arias could've developed everything more. To be fair, whatever is there is very well written and every scene is well done. Vanessa and Ronny are nice, but we'd have liked to know them more. With how well it is written, the length felt like a tease.
All our griping just underlines that this is a good read. If you're looking for a short read, this is highly recommended. 


In the Black by Luci Dreamer


Michelle Mitchell (Mitch) and Lilly Tan were high school sweethearts living and idyll life in the small town of Bend City. Till Lilly chose to go away to study and in response Mitch cut her off completely. Ten years thence, Mitch is a firefighter. She loves her job and is kickass at it but hasn't spent a single day without thinking of Lilly who seems to have created a whole new life in Atlanta. 

When Lilly's beloved aunt, May, falls ill, Lilly is back in town. May owns a popular bar which she wills to Lilly. May's health deteriorates rapidly and Lilly's visit extends to become a longer stay. May and Mitch also have a close relationship so Lilly and Mitch meet and interact much more than expected or planned and find that their past connection never quite went away.

Initially, we were completely Team Mitch. We totally felt her, especially about the not-a-day-without-thinking-of-Lilly decade. We are never great fans of the plot device were a third party is treated poorly by one of the MCs as she finds her way back to love and that was exactly what Lilly was doing, so our empathy and liking for her was very low. But as the story progressed the understanding and liking flipped. 

Both Lilly and Mitch made missteps but on the whole, we felt Lilly's share of blame in their relationship's demise was less than Mitch's. Closing off communication -- neither talking, nor listening; not being physically present; refusing to read written communication in any form -- this is certain killing off of a relationship. This feeling got stronger because in the second half of the book, Mitch became more self-pitying about what had happened in the past and refused to move on from there. We have low to no patience with people who reject or delay love, so we found Mitch un-understandable, exasperating and downright irritating. We still didn't like Lilly's treatment of her girlfriend in Atlanta, but she was faultless with Mitch. 

We found the fire action in the climax rather long drawn out and admit that we skipped a lot of it. To us it was too long a detour from the main story about the relationship.

Despite our issues with both the leading ladies at different points in the book, this is definitely a good second chances romance -- so go for it.

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Matters of the Heart
The Shark
Then & Now
Just Married?
Give Me a Reason
Dare to Stay
Peppermint Kiss
Eyes Like Those
Love Like This
Blood and Roses
The Arrangement
Princess of Dorsa
Marriage of Unconvenience
The Lucky Ones
Off Screen
Reality Check
Far from Home
Stormy Seas

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